Anyone suffering from insomnia might do well to watch a replay of last Saturday's match between the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union, because it was a snoozer. Red Bull Arena was packed, the South Ward was in fine form (besides some sanctions that we'll get into later), and the the players from both sides seemed up for a fight....and then the match started. It's not fair to say that things went down hill from there, but they certainly didn't go up either. The match itself basically acted as a plateau to a day that was nothing but a continuous rise.
I struggled with the idea of filling y'all in on this plan of mine. It's pretty genius, you see, and letting the cat out of the bag now will definitely ruin the scam for future implementation. Unfortunately, it's too good to keep to myself. This is what I did, the night before (that would be Friday) I get home from work and casually mention to my future wife how tired I am. "I've been waking up extra early everyday to hit the gym," I say to her. "I think I just want to stay in tonight...watch a movie or something." She happily agrees and my plan is set in motion. For the reminder of the night, I place strategic yawns in all the right places and casually use phrases such as "man, I'm sleepy" or "sure can't wait to go to sleep" or my personal favorite, "It's 10:30pm, I'm going to bed."
What's the point, you ask? I'll tell you. Getting to sleep at 10:30pm means I got a cool eight hours of shut eye and DIDN'T have to set the alarm for the following morning. That's right, up at 7:00am, just in time for some English Premier League action and no "I can't believe you actually set an alarm clock to watch soccer." Genius, right? Of course, that genius was slightly stifled by the fact that said future wife was already up with a cup of coffee and ready to watch Liverpool. Back to the drawing board, I guess. The rest of the morning was nothing more than a blur of English football delight. It's good to have you back, EPL. NBC looks good on you.
With the Everton match coming to an end in a frustrating draw, we finally decide to be actual human beings and leave the apartment. Donning my Red Bulls jersey, we set off for a walk over the Williamsburg Bridge and into Manhattan. What better way to spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon than going to the Italian American History Museum? For those who haven't been, the tiny hole in the wall of a museum is worth a quick visit. While there, the cashier immediately asked if I was going to the night's match and said he hoped the Red Bulls would win. Hey! Someone saw the jersey and DIDN'T think I was a representative giving away free energy drinks! Shortly after, we stepped into a small pub to enjoy a pint of the black stuff while watching poor Swansea get their butts kicked all over the pitch by Manchester United. Congrats, David Moyes, you are successful in keeping ManU one of my most hated clubs. During the match, a few more folks in Red Bull jerseys come sauntering in. We exchange knowing nods of the head and continue with our own business. With a few more hours to kill, we decide to head into Harrison early and pay a visit to the Viking Army tailgate....
The Viking Army Tailgate
Whoever wrote that the Viking Army was nothing more than a fraternity like bunch of drunken loons couldn't be farther from the truth while still being kind of right. This is my first season as a member of the VA and I'm sad to say I don't interact nearly as much with the group as I'd like. After a quick visit to Saturday's tailgate, that is a regret that I intend to fix ASAP. As soon as we got within earshot of the crummy old warehouse that the tailgate calls home, we were greeted with blaring salsa music and the sights of serval large men and brave women dancing in the street. As we got closer we were approached by some of the friendliest folks you're likely to meet and offered a variety of interesting meats that had been freshly grilled in the parking lot. Apparently, it was "exotic meat day" at the tailgate and the assortment of food did not disappoint. After explaining that we didn't want to mooch as we didn't bring food or drink to share, we were slapped on the back, handed a beer and told to start dancing. A few beers, some wild boar bacon, a schmeer of blood sausage and rousing singalong of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" later, my head was swimming and it was time to see some friends visiting from Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Tailgate
Two of our good friends who happen to be Union season ticket holders (they're really nice people, I swear) decided to make the drive from Chester, PA to come visit for the match. They pulled into the gravely lot in front of the arena and with them they'd brought plenty of beer and sandwiches....not that I needed anything more to eat, my stomach was fit to burst after the VA tailgate. After about fifteen minutes of catching up and good conversation, I realized that it was imperative that I use the bathroom immediately. I suckered one of my visiting friends to take the walk with me and off we went. Something that the powers that be might want to take into consideration is the fact that, with so many people tailgating, drinking in the Coor's Light tent and coming in from Cata's, Mmmmm Bello's and El Pastore, they might want to place more port-o-potties around the outside of the arena. It was a considerable hike and when we finally got to the bathrooms, the line was wrapped around the block. Now I've never been accused of being a patient man, so of course I didn't wait. We simply walked to one of the less populated parking lots, found a large SUV to block the view and let her rip. If you drive a silver 2006 Ford Escape, you might want get your vehicle detailed. Having accomplished full relief, we set back to the parking lot and then made our way into the stadium.
What's there to be said about Saturday's match that hasn't already been said about the film "The English Patient?" It was good if you really wanted it to be, but the majority of those who watched it probably fell asleep before it was over. Something worth mentioning though, is the South Ward. Specifically the Garden State Ultras. I don't know anyone in GSU. I'm not entirely sure why they call themselves "ultras" or what an ultra really is...but I do know that they have decided to stick to their guns. We've all heard way too much about the YSA drama, so I'm not going to bore anyone with the specifics, but it should be said that MLS brass and the New York front office has decided to put sanctions on GSU for failing to cooperate. Until otherwise stated, they are no longer to use flags, drums, banners or anything else that could be considered "tifo." Whether or not those sanctions are justified is up for debate and I won't get into it now, however something that is definitely justified is the term "supporter's group" when used in reference to GSU. They could have done what other groups have done in the past and implemented a silent protest, but instead they did what they were formed to do and they supported their team. Just as loud, just as passionate and with just as much conviction, the Garden State Ultras' presence in the arena was not harmed in the least. Hey GSU, they can take your tifo, but they can never take your heart. No matter what your stance on YSA, I applaud your dedication to the New York Red Bulls. Thanks for helping to make an otherwise lackluster match something to remember.